Research suggests 25% of a school’s success is derived from its leadership team. So, whether you’re trying to turn around a low-performing school, improve student achievement or need to inspire new employees and maintain existing standards, your school leadership team are pivotal. In fact, the reality of leadership influence is vastly underestimated, as they are also responsible for recruiting, mentoring and retaining staff. This role of the leadership team is often well outside their skill set and capability, which considering recruitment and retention is one of the costliest exercises a school can undertake, this could be a problem. For example, a failed recruitment exercise using traditional methods can cost upwards of £70,000.
As the education recruitment experts, we spend much of our time advising client-school leadership teams on best-practice. So, to help you improve your leadership recruitment performance, here are some pointers in the dark art of education attraction.
Look at YOUR personal brand
As the headteacher, how are you viewed publicly? Does this impact positively or negatively on recruitment? What is your vision? Make sure you reinforce it and make it public. It’s not only the school’s employer brand that needs considering, but also the individual at the helm of the ship. The way they you are viewed from the outset will dictate the quality of leadership applicant you will receive.
Know who you want
Absolute clarity on the type of leader you wish to employ is important. This begins with an introspective look at the current team and what type of individual will complement, enhance or, if chosen incorrectly, even diminish performance. Try identifying the various leadership styles within your current team using psychometric tests and assessments. The results of this becomes the basis for your job descriptions and person specification documents. By having this level of clarity, not only will the right type of candidate be more inclined to apply, but also your hiring team/agency will be aligned during assessment.
Deliver continuous candidate engagement
Create a contact strategy for leaders to keep them engaged. The most common candidate complaint of a school recruitment process is the lack of communication. Many schools simply don’t have the capacity to communicate with every applicant because this is still conducted manually, which leaves prospective employees feeling lost, under-valued and demotivated to continue with the process. You certainly don’t want this happening with your leadership positions!
Use a talent pool
School recruitment, across all positions is a reactive process, with most of schools searching for candidates only when there is a vacancy which is both expensive and time consuming. A talent pool is a proactive recruitment method that collects interested candidates even when they’re not actively looking, ready for use when you are recruiting. Ensure that your ‘Silver Medal’ candidates are recycled into talent pools too. Promote your talent pool on your website and make it easy for candidates to enter.
Be transparent and honest
Publish school reports and judgements (OFSTED, HMC, KHDA), org charts, exam results, average length of stay for teachers etc. Share them with prospective school leaders to provide another face of your school. Transparency builds trust and a culture of openness.
Be a marketing pro
1. Promote the school’s culture. Position your school as somewhere that a leader ‘has to be’. Performance metrics (successes, rankings, awards etc.) are fine, but the ‘soft’ things such as vision, mission, beliefs, retention philosophy and teaching atmosphere are equally important.
2. Be a social school. Don’t be afraid of social media, embrace it and use the relevant platforms to promote the leadership role. Surprisingly, our Facebook PPC advertising engages more leadership roles than teaching roles. LinkedIn and Twitter are also hubs of leadership talent.
3. Ensure your school website is attractive. This is the ‘window’ to the soul of the school. Many school leaders are put off by the website before even applying for the position.
4. Focus on your employer brand. You must do more than simply show what roles you have available and delve into what makes you different as an employer. Culture, personality, work life balance and career prospects must be communicated.
5. Understand digital advertising. Leaders are online despite what you may believe. Encourage HR to understand the advantages and processes of the latest digital advertising methods such as PPC and Google AdWords.